Published on
December 8, 2020

17 Canadian Healthcare Professionals Approved to Use Psilocybin for Professional Training

VICTORIA, British Columbia, December 8, 2020

17 healthcare professionals associated with TheraPsil, a non-profit, patient-rights advocacy group, have been approved by the Federal Health Minister, Patty Hajdu, to possess and use psilocybin for professional training in psilocybin therapy. The approved healthcare professionals include psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical counselors, social workers, general practitioners, and nurses. These approvals were granted through exemptions to section 56(1) of the Canadian Drugs & Substances Act and the decision comes after 166 days of TheraPsil’s advocating for access.

Bruce Tobin, TheraPsil’s founder, and Board Chair, had this to say about the recent exemptions for him and his colleagues:

“The road to legal psilocybin therapy has been a long one.  Health Canada’s decision represents another huge milestone in Canadian medical history.  Our government has recently become a world-leader in allowing patients access to psilocybin to treat end-of-life distress and with these new approvals for therapists, Health Canada now rightfully acknowledges that clinician experience with psychedelic medicines is an important part of their training.  Therapists having psychedelic experience are able to more deeply empathize with patients and understand their experience.  It's part of what helps therapists to provide the highest standard of clinical care to their patients.  I join my team in expressing our thanks and our respect for Minister Patty Hajdu, for her courageous support for Canadian patients requiring psilocybin.”

On August 4th 2020, Minister Patty Hajdu began granting access to psilocybin for Canadians with end-of-life distress through section 56 exemptions. To date, 14 individuals have received exemptions to access psilocybin therapy.

TheraPsil has been inundated with patient requests for support and realizes the need for highly qualified healthcare professionals who are trained in psilocybin therapy and can provide high-quality patient care in this unique modality. To address this demand, TheraPsil has been diligently working on a training program in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for qualified healthcare professionals.

Part of TheraPsil’s training program, in conjunction with lectures, case studies, readings, and discussions,  involves ‘experiential learning’, whereby trainees take psilocybin mushrooms themselves in the presence of a trained guide to become deeply familiar with this non-ordinary state of consciousness, first hand.

As such, starting on June 18th, 2020, healthcare professionals involved with TheraPsil began submitting their own section 56 exemptions to access psilocybin for professional training purposes.

TheraPsil’s Medical Director, Dr. Sean O’Sullivan, describes:

“It is surely a given that any guide wishing to lead journeyers across potentially challenging terrain, should be intimately familiar with that terrain.  This principle is no different in the realms of psyche and spirit.  Realms of the unconscious revealed by psychedelic medicines are unusual, to say the least, and a deep familiarity with them is a prerequisite for a psychedelic guide.  We are grateful that Health Canada has followed the expert consensus in recognizing this extremely important aspect of psychedelic psychotherapy.”

TheraPsil’s campaigns advocating for patient and healthcare professional access to psilocybin have been supported by the Honorable Carolyn Bennett, Hedy Fry, Marcus Powlowski, Helena Jaseck, Nathaniel Erskine Smith Elizabeth May, Paul Manly, and Jenica Atwin and Alistair MacGregor, and endorsed by world-renowned psychedelic experts including Rick Doblin, Charles Grob, Stanislav Grof, Paul Grof, Michael Mithoefer and Emma Hapke. TheraPsil is deeply appreciative of these individuals’ ongoing support of safe, equitable, and compassionate access to psilocybin therapy and for their progressive leadership.

As TheraPsil’s Training Committee continues to work on a training program to prepare healthcare professionals to facilitate psilocybin therapy for their end-of-life patients, TheraPsil is fundraising so it can continue to facilitate safe and equitable access to psilocybin therapy for qualified patients, and launch its training program for healthcare professionals in 2021.

Spencer Hawkswell, CEO of TheraPsil had this to say:

“We’re grateful to Health Minister Patty Hajdu. Training will be absolutely necessary to meet patient demand and to begin exploring the many challenges of patient access, primarily a lack of doctors and therapists trained in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. Now more than ever, TheraPsil needs support so that we can deliver on our mission, treat more patients, and launch our training program to support health care professionals. Were looking to raise $250,000 by the new year and I’m calling on all our stakeholders to help us achieve this goal.”

To support TheraPsil’s mission, donations are graciously accepted here.

Interested healthcare professionals who would like to be informed of updates pertaining to TheraPsil’s Training Program are invited to contact us here.

Therapsil looks forward to continuing to support patient applications, and to working with the Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, and Health Canada to facilitate an expanded mandate for safe and equitable access to psilocybin therapy for all Canadians in medical need.

Individuals experiencing end-of-life distress are invited to confidentially contact TheraPsil on the TheraPsil website.

Media Contact:        

Holly Bennett, Director of Communications,

All other inquiries:  

Spencer Hawkswell, CEO

About TheraPsil

TheraPsil is a non-profit coalition that advocates for legal, compassionate access to psilocybin therapy for Canadians in medical need. TheraPsil, supports patients with their applications for ministerial approval of psilocybin for medical purposes and connects approved patients with qualified practitioners to receive psilocybin-assisted therapy treatment. TheraPsil has been advocating for compassionate access since 2019.

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